Microsoft Teams is a great tool for communication and collaboration, with one of the best features being easy and quick video chat. Make the most of your chat experience with these communication tips.
Create an agenda
Agendas should be standard for any meeting you are setting, but it’s easy with the Teams meeting invite. When you create the meeting invite in outlook or directly from teams, add an agenda to help keep people on track. In a remote meeting, this simple outline is doubly important. You won’t have the assistance of body language or other visual cues to grab the group’s attention or redirect the conversation. It’s much easier to say, “let’s go to the next item on the agenda”, or “we have to get through the rest of the agenda before [3 PM],” to get people back on track.
Blur your background
Teams makes it easy to blur your background to get rid of any distractions. If you are working from home, you don’t need to find just the right place in front of a blank wall to have a professional video chat. You can still sit at your home computer and not worry about decor or clutter.
You may be familiar with screen sharing to show the other participants in the chat exactly what you are referring to. Microsoft Teams has another collaborative element in Whiteboard. This is a blank slate that you and your chat participants can write in as if using a whiteboard together. Easily diagram your thoughts for a brainstorming session without sacrificing collaboration.
Encourage all voices to be heard
As previously mentioned, visual cues, like someone trying to find their turn to speak, can get lost in a remote meeting. Like many video chats, Teams will indicate who is talking by highlighting their picture. This works even if they just made a slight noise indicating they want to speak up. It is always important to encourage participation by not letting others be talked over and asking for input or questions throughout the meeting. Simply recognizing that someone was interrupted or about to speak can help all voices be heard.
Mute participants as needed
All of us have been in a meeting where someone is clearly in a car or are in any noisy environment. If this meeting is more demonstrative than collaborative you can mute participants. For meetings with more than 5 people, attendees are defaulted to being muted. However, they can unmute themselves if they want to interject or ask a question.
Record the meeting
Teams has a button that allows you to record the chat for future use. This will be located in the channel or direct message that the call took place in. You can also find older recordings in the Teams’ share folders. Anyone who was unable to participate in the meeting can go back and watch. This is also helpful to keep everyone involved and contributing. Attendees can review the video later instead of focusing on taking notes during the meeting.
These features can help make online meetings as productive as in-person meetings (perhaps more because you can’t mute someone IRL). Furthermore, Microsoft is rolling out new features regularly to stay competitive in the collaboration and communication market. This includes live captions for improved accessibility, live events for large broadcasting, and transparent foreground when using a whiteboard.
We at Valiant have been replacing the majority of our internal conference calls with Teams meetings and are increasing our use of Teams for external conference calls as well. I encourage you to try this for your next call and get the same feeling of collaboration and togetherness even when remote.
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